Throughout the book of Acts you find church “report cards.” Brief summaries of how the body of believers in Christ, born of the gospel, was growing and advancing as the Word was preached and the disciples testified of a new Way through a risen Christ.
At the end of Acts 2 it’s stated that the first believers praised God, found favor with the people, and “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (2:47). In chapter 4 the Spirit records that all who believed were “of one heart and soul”, so much so, that even their material wealth was shared freely among themselves for “they had everything in common” (4:32). In Acts 6 it’s noted that “the word of God continued to increase” and “the number of the disciples multiplied”, even a “great many priests” becoming “obedient to the faith” (6:7). And then, the church’s footprint expands as it’s forced to leave the comfort of well-known, well-tested Jerusalem because there arose such a great persecution against the church that “they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (8:1).
But, this morning, it’s the progress report in Acts 9 that causes me to pause and reflect. A statement that, at first, strikes me as somewhat contradictory. But one that, as I chew on it a bit, really seems to me to be a recipe for a thriving church.
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
(Acts 9:31 ESV)
The fear of the Lord. The comfort of the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that a formula for flourishing?
A holy reverence permeating the bride of Christ on earth as she bows in humble submission before her great High Priest seated at the Father’s right hand in heaven (Heb. 8:1). And yet, through the encouragement of the Spirit, she is prompted and led to approach such a holy habitation with boldness and confidence, the Spirit revealing to her spirit that it is a throne of grace (Heb. 4:16).
A sober obedience among the disciples of Christ as they heed the voice of their Master. All while they enjoy sweet communion with the Master as He invites them to eat with Him around a dining table (Rev. 3:20). An intimate fellowship brokered by the Helper sent from heaven. Sent not only to empower them for the work, but also to weave them into abiding relationship with both Father and Son (Jn. 17:21).
A deep down dread when, as is so often the case, they fail to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. But faithfully reminded by the Comforter that the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin. Though in dread of defiling His holy Name, yet assured that if they confess their sin He is faithful and just to forgive their sin (1Jn. 1:9).
Reverently, obediently, fearfully walking in awe of our great Savior and Lord.
Yet ever mindful of the One who quietly, gently draws alongside us — even as He lives inside us — reminding us we that we walk in the power of the Spirit, cleansed continually by the blood of the Lamb, so that in all things we might ever know the steadfast love of the Father.
That’s how we roll. Walking in the fear of the Lord. Walking in the comfort of the Spirit.
Isn’t that a formula for flourishing? I’m thinkin’ . . .
By His grace. For His glory.